You don't know me. We met in passing at your son's first wedding; you asked something about the logistics while I was setting up the centrepieces on the reception tables, I answered you, and when I was done with my task I fled to the bride's room to hide from you. I'm sure you figured out that I was his lover when they insisted on taking photographs that included me (as well as my husband) over your objections. I'm sure that it was not lost on you that we helped clean up the place as if we were part of the basic logistics, not merely guests, and were the ones who said the last goodbyes as all the wedding guests drifted away.
There was a time you liked the idea of me, wanted to meet me - back when you thought of me as a human being. A fellow potter, perhaps, or someone who could provide useful advice. Someone who was important to your son, yes, and I suppose that was a part of why you said you were looking forward to the opportunity.
I have this thing, though, that I won't meet people under false pretences if I can possibly avoid it. I most particularly will not step under their roof with the expectation that I will be lying to them, and pretending to be anything other than his partner would be a deception. I have a particular sense of hallpeace that I will not be so easily brought to violate; it would be an insult and a dishonor to my host were I to do so.
I know that I stopped being a person to you as soon as you knew. I was no longer someone with a set of shared interests, someone who was a major presence in your son's life; I was a symbol of so many things gone wrong, and that symbol overwhelmed any human fellowship we might have had.
I know and understand that you were hurt badly and betrayed by a partner who was unfaithful to you. I wish I could tell you that I will not betray your son and be heard, or that his devotion to me was not a betrayal of his legal spouse. I do not know how to mend this at all, or even if it is mendable; it is certainly not anything I can touch, because you have made me your enemy whether I will it or not.
There is nobody in the world beyond my immediate family whose recognition matters more to me than yours; nobody I want more to acknowledge me as his wife. I think that you are one of the people who has mattered to him most in the world, which means your regard matters to me. It might be better for me if I could dismiss it as a matter of insignificance, but that is not within my power. I am vulnerable to you; I cannot say I like it, but I acknowledge it and accept it. My dedication to your son means that you have that gut shot available to you, and that is okay.
When he and I got married, we had long, long talks about who to invite. We brought in our community as witnesses, because marriage is a thing about community. I invited my father and my brother. He wound up inviting no relatives, because he could not expect you to understand. I know how much it meant to me to have my father there, especially recognising that he is not perfectly comfortable with the structure of my family. I wish we could have opened our ceremony to include you.
I wish I could spare him the pain of all this. Or at least that I could set my own pain and anxiousness aside and just hold him rather than be plagued with tearing weakness that means that he must comfort me instead of the other way around. Every time you and he talk, I see his pain and frustration, not just at your refusal to see me or your refusal to see him, but at losing you. I wish things were different, that he did not feel forced into a choice between his mother and his wife, that ... I just wish things were different.
I wish I could talk to you and put it right, never mind that what is wrong is in a place I could not touch if I tried. There is a part of me that fervently believes that if you could see us, spend a little time with us, get to know us and our family, that you might come to forgive us for not being the white picket fence family you wanted your son to have. I know this is a fantasy, a little dream world that I spin to make it seem like this could possibly be under my control and thus something I could fix, something that could fall into a realm I could affect. Something that I could change, make better. Something that I could heal.
I know that I cannot, and it may never be better, never be different. Which is why, while I may write you letters in my mind, I cannot send them.
20 October, 2009